Is Pep Guardiola a fraud?
But the drama was far from over and from a corner, Spurs regained an aggregate lead when Fernando Llorente bundled home from close range and despite a lengthy VAR check, the referee gave the goal.
While City will rue a host of other chances that could have put them out of sight in the tie, the talking points after the game are about the controversy surrounding VAR.
A late VAR call ruled out a last-gasp victor from Sterling, as Spurs survived long enough to shock their Premier League rivals and advance to the semi-finals.
City needed a late response and they thought they had found it as Sterling showed great footwork in the box before poking past Lloris, but VAR saved Spurs.
But City still had 17 minutes plus stoppage time to tilt the pendulum back in their favour, and they pushed once again, pouring forward and targeting the byline.
In what could be seen as a dig against rivals Manchester United, Guardiola admitted he had never heard such an atmosphere before in the city.
Football has changed and we have to accept that, but there is added drama and drama that is in pursuit of making the right decision which makes VAR even more worthwhile. He also conceded that sometimes players can be frustrated by VAR calls though this was not one of those nights.
City would not win and the Quadruple dream was over, for another year at least.
Owing to Llorente's contentious goal, Tottenham managed to level the tie against their mighty opponents.
It was Salah's first Champions League goal since December, and his first away from Anfield in the competition in 12 months.
The Spaniard said he always believed in his ability to deliver for Spurs, who will face Ajax in the semi-finals.
The current Premier League champions must win in the early kick-off to return back to the top of the table, above rivals Liverpool.
"My players are heroes, making the semifinal, making history", he said. This team has such strong mentality that all is possible.
The Portuguese global said: "We are very disappointed because obviously we wanted to qualify for the semi-finals. It is a long time ago that we started to build this achievement".